King empire

Switzerland drops money laundering case involving former king of Spain

A Swiss private bank involved in the three-year criminal investigation was found guilty of failing to report and fined.

Prosecutor Yves Bertossa said he had established that Saudi Arabia had paid $ 100 million in August 2008 to an account opened a month earlier at the private bank Mirabaud on behalf of a Panamanian foundation whose beneficial owner was Juan Carlos .

But Bertossa said in a statement he was unable to prove a sufficient connection to a contract awarded three years later to Spanish companies for a high-speed rail connection to Saudi Arabia.

The Spanish royal house declined to comment on the development. Juan Carlos, who lives in exile in the United Arab Emirates, could not be reached immediately for comment.

Through his lawyer, Juan Carlos has previously declined to comment on the various allegations of wrongdoing against him. The king’s former Geneva asset manager has been cited in court documents as testifying that a Saudi ambassador called the funds “a pure giveaway”.

Bertossa said he opened the criminal investigation in 2018, following reports that the former king, who abdicated in 2014, may have received “illegal commissions” related to contracts and withheld funds on Swiss accounts.

“The investigation established that Juan Carlos I in fact received $ 100 million into the Lucum Foundation account at Mirabaud & Cie SA in Geneva, from the Saudi Ministry of Finance on August 8, 2008,” Bertossa said.

The use of a foundation and offshore accounts by various protagonists in the case had shown a “will to cover up”, but he had not been able to sufficiently prove the relationship between the Saudi payment and the contract for the rail link between Medina and Mecca, he mentioned.


Additional payments of nearly $ 9 million from Kuwait and Bahrain were received into accounts held by Juan Carlos and his former German-born lover, Corinna Zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, Bertossa said. She received the balance of 65 million euros ($ 73.3 million) from the Mirabaud account, which was closed in June 2012 and the funds transferred to her account in the Bahamas, the prosecutor added.

Charges against four defendants, whose court documents show the asset manager, a lawyer and a banker, as well as Zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, for alleged “aggravated money laundering” have been dismissed, Bertossa said. Juan Carlos was not among the five indicted suspects, which also included the bank, accused of failing to report unusual account activity under money laundering law.

“Today, I was finally cleared of any wrongdoing of any kind in connection with the three-year investigation by the Swiss prosecutor,” Zu Sayn-Wittgenstein said in a statement sent to Reuters .

“My innocence was evident at first and this episode hurt me even more as part of the ongoing campaign of abuse against me by certain Spanish interests.”

“The main criminals, for their part, have not been investigated and have had time to cover up their activities. They remain irresponsible, ”she said.

Mirabaud bank was fined 50,000 Swiss francs ($ 54,100) for failing to report Zu Sayn-Wittgenstein’s account and his unusual activity of funds received from the foundation belonging to the former king, said the press release from the prosecutor.

The bank said in a statement that it welcomed the conclusion of the criminal proceedings. He said his alleged breach of an obligation to report did not relate to the account linked to the former King of Spain and that he had developed and strengthened his internal procedures since.

(This story is officially corrected to reflect the prosecutor’s later statement clarifying that the bank had not been charged with money laundering in paragraph 11) ($ 1 = 0.9242 Swiss francs) ($ 1 = 0.8868 euros )

(Reporting and writing by Stephanie Nebehay; additional reporting by Emma Pinedo Gonzalez and Belen Carreno in Madrid; Editing by Gareth Jones and Alex Richardson)